Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Super delicious Yamato Yasai dishes at Naramachi's Vegetable Restaurant Hiyori!

A dish that's far more delicious than it looks!
A dish that tastes nothing like it looks!!
A dessert that may not look like much but tasted heavenly!!!
A couple of weeks ago, I had a dinner at a restaurant here in Hong Kong where many of the dishes served looked totally Instagram worthy but didn't actually taste all that special.  In contrast, when I look back at the photos I took of the dishes served at a super delicious lunch that I had in Naramachi, I get to thinking that the images make the food look so much less palatable than it all really was.  
Vegetable Restaurant Hiyori (aka Shunsai Hiyori) serves up yasai-biyori lunch sets: set meals featuring seven dishes of Yamato Yasai, the organic vegetables grown in -- and associated with -- the area.  But while Nara has a long association with vegetarian cuisine, the restaurant actually is not strictly vegetarian and diners have the option of supplementing their orders of Yamato Yasai with such as Yamatogyu (Nara's local beef), local chicken or local fish if they so wish.

With my appetite for wagyu having been whetted (rather than satiated) by my taste of Omi beef in Hikone, I made sure that my yasai-biyori set lunch would come with some Yamatogyu.  In due course, three thick slices of decadent, fat-specked beef came to my table and, almost needless to say, I found them very delicious indeed.

At the same time though, I honestly will say that there were vegetarian dishes at Vegetable Restaurant Hiyori that I actually enjoyed more than those tasty slices of grilled wagyu.  And so good were three of the vegetable dishes that I was served that I actually found myself making the kind of appreciative noises that I normally only do when eating extremely good Japanese beef or truly sublime sushi!  
The first of this trio was a mountain yam dish that came across like ideal comfort food for a very cold day (which it what the day was), and whose texture was something in between mashed potato and minced meat rather than mushy and sticky the way that previous mountain yam concoctions I've eaten have been.  The second looked like a creme brulee, complete with caramelized crust, but turned out to be an amazingly rich and delicious tofu and cabbage gratin.  
And last, but certainly not least, was a dessert that struck me as a super elevated version of the muar chee (peanut mochi (glutinous rice balls)) that's available as a street snack in Penang.  Bursting with flavor, it was one of those dishes whose every mouthful I savored so much that I actually forced myself to eat it more slowly than usual so that I would be able to enjoy it all the more! :)


Paul said...

Sounds like a great find. I'm particularly intrigued by the tofu and cabbage gratin with the caramelized crust!

YTSL said...

Hi Paul --

It did feel like a great find. I'm so glad that I trusted my instincts and gave the restaurant a try. It's one of those places that looks a bit intimidating from the outside in terms of your feeling like you don't quite know what to expect. In a way, the food served was like that too in that it was made from familiar (and not particularly exotic) ingredients, yet came in preparations that were often surprising but oh so very delicious!